Number of stars: 4 of 5
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Adult & YA
HOORAY! I didn’t leave a glowing review for book 1, but happily the 2nd book was much better than the first! This is an excellent, if dark adventure story full of family, friends, difficult choices that shouldn’t have to be choices (lesser of 2 evils situations) and high stakes.
I enjoyed Talin’s prominent POV and her inner thoughts. I’m glad Lu didn’t switch back and forth between her POV and Red’s too often (a chapter or two) and by her using this tool of telling the reader what’s going on in both sides of the war from Talin and Red’s perspectives I was able to enjoy a bigger picture and deeper understanding of this fantasy world, what the allies and enemies were up to.
I also appreciated how seamlessly Lu wove the importance of family, love of all kinds and genders, and knowing when to let go of power into this final book. It’s easy for the hero who defeats the big bad guy to simply take his place, right? We’ve read it before. The hero is loved by the masses and steps up to change the world/decide how THEY think said world should be run.
It was refreshing therefore that Talin, at the end of it all, chose to hand back that power and go home. Very understandable, very human, very sweet.
Lots of positivity and hope throughout this book, and something for everyone. I smile when I think of how well Lu wrote her protagonist, with a speech handicap without focusing/drawing the reader’s attention to said handicap over and over again. And Talin certainly was a strong woman regardless of that!
Extra props to Lu for explaining WHY her villain is the way he is too. Always an extra point from me!
My only sour critique: I don’t like repetition.
If you read Book 1, and even at the beginning of Book 2, we all know that big bad Constantine is ill. If Talin had a mind link with him and she was constantly afraid of him finding out what she was thinking, then WHY on Earth would she dwell on that poison in his tea/soup that the Chief Architect was giving him? So many times? “Ah, Constantine is weaker than usual today. I surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre hope he doesn’t suspect the poison!” (Next chapter) “Dang, I’m so worried that he’ll suspect the poison! I see it’s working! I hope he won’t pick up on these thoughts of mine and find out!” (Pause for unimpressed slow blink, directed at protagonist). Seriously, girl?
It was mentioned so often that even a speed reader like me picked up on it and found it irritating. C’mon. Can we please move on? Stop thinking of the poison so often? Why are we hearing about this again? I lost count, but it was over 6 times in the last half of the book that Talin’s thoughts strayed to this matter. Too many times, in my opinion. So I could have done without that. It distracted me from the fast, smooth plot pace.